Q. I have two grandchildren who are teenagers but have never made their first Communion. Whenever we visit them on the mainland, I keep reminding them and their parents about the importance of attending religious education classes. Realistically, though, I believe that this is never going to happen.
I would very much like them to participate in the Eucharist, because I view it as the source of life. I have been a CCD (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine) teacher before, and I have books (age-appropriate) that I bought to teach my grandchildren about the sacraments of reconciliation and Eucharist.
If I go through these books with them and educate them on the sacraments, will that be sufficient to allow them to confess and to receive holy Communion? (A caring grandmother from Ewa Beach, Hawaii)
A. Yes, your experience as a religion teacher would probably be sufficient for you to prepare your grandchildren for the sacraments. (In our parish, we often assign children to an individual “tutor” when those children are older than most first communicants.)
But you should continue to encourage them to enroll with their age group in formal religious education classes. That way, they will not only hear the other things they need to know to learn and live their faith, but they will profit from the support of their friends.
Before you begin, it would be best for you to speak with your grandchildren’s parents to be sure that they are comfortable with you undertaking this worthy project. (It will help, of course, if the children themselves agree, too!)
You should also make contact with a priest in their parish (of their own choosing) and tell him what you are doing. Later, when you feel that your grandchildren are sufficiently prepared, the priest can sit down with them and informally evaluate their readiness. If he feels comfortable, he will then arrange to hear their confessions and give them their first Communion.
Q. I was always taught that you could not sell items that had been blessed or you would be committing the sin of simony. But recently I read somewhere that certain blessed items could in fact be resold, but that the blessing itself does not carry forward with them. (In other words, they would have to be re-blessed after the sale.) What is the truth? (Greenwood, Ind.)
A. The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines simony in No. 2121 as “the buying or selling of spiritual things.” The term takes its origin from book of Acts, where Simon the magician wanted to buy the spiritual power he saw at work in the apostles. A blessing is a “spiritual thing” and therefore cannot be bought or sold.
Religious articles that have been blessed (statues, crosses, paintings, etc.) can however be resold, but only for the intrinsic value of the article itself. Any blessing is lost with the resale, and the piece would need to be blessed anew. (This removes any profit incentive which could be associated with selling the “blessing” part of the sacramental.)
People sometimes ask about papal blessings, which are sent from Rome for a suggested donation. The donation is not for the blessing, but for the cost of the parchment as well as for its shipping and handling.
Questions may be sent to Father Kenneth Doyle at firstname.lastname@example.org and 40 Hopewell St., Albany, N.Y. 12208.